With approximately 2000 feathers on each bird, the summer snow is really a mess! It is so light and fluffy that as I try to sweep them up they float away to a clean spot! Thank goodness they can not elude the shop vac!! I can't wait to get this years molt over, can you?
Only fit birds will molt and failure to molt is a sign of illness but the speed at which they molt is dependent not only on their health but also on their age, diet and weather. The later a chick hatches the quicker it will molt. Nature says to these late bloomers, "you have arrived at the party late, now catch up". In my rollers, my best singers are generally the late bloomers, who get weaned only to start the molt and skip the baby twittering.
With feathers being primarily protein, supplying extra protein in nestling food helps speed the process initially. My recipe for molting nestling food was printed July 20th on the blog.
When a broad tract of pin feathers are clearly seen on the top of the head, it is time to cut back on the amount and frequency of protein and increase the carbohydrates in the diet. A small amount of egg containing nestling food should be fed once a day and continue till the molt is finished. After the hens quit trying to nest and showing signs of molting on their wing butts, the hens, like the other birds, get the nestling food once daily. Immediately, their appearance improves better than a trip to the spa!
Its time to increase the portion of carbohydrate in the diet by feeding either regular human oatmeal or steel cut oats. If you are not feeding white bread, this is a good time to feed it once daily to tame the birds, and help finish the molt. Canary seed should be increased and continue increasing in the seed mix and decreasing fattening sunflower pieces for most birds which are shown for type or color.
Refined singers such as German Rollers need the rape seed increased and canary decreased to promote high quality sound at the expense of a quick finish. They also still will need some sunflower pieces and bread to fatten them up for show training.
All additional lighting should either be off or set at no more than nine hours daily. Once song training begins, competition song birds should be on 10.5 hours. Moving up to a maximum of 11 hours per day can be done if necessary for more frequency but some quality may be lost. Day length must be consistent and only moving forward once song training begins.
Falling temperatures signaling the season change is also very helpful. Last night, a cold front came through dropping temperatures from the high of 88 to a low overnight of 56. Great time to open the screen covered windows and let the cool air signal the birds that its time to start getting out their winter coat!